Chapter 21 : Chapter 21: Beauty, the Beast and Jane
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George walked downstairs into the common room to find Hermione sat in front of the fire, silent and thoughtful.
He smiled at her and sat beside her lacing his fingers through her own not wanting to disturb the peace.
“Are you happy?” Hermione asked softly. The question had come from nowhere but George could tell immediately that something behind it was troubling her.
“Do you even have to ask?” George said and grinned moving closer to her and placing a warm hand on the side of her face. “I’m beyond happiness and it’s all because of you.”
Hermione smiled, “I am too... but George?”
George faltered and felt every muscle in his chest constrict. But? There shouldn’t be a ‘but’. It should be a simple case of she was happy too. End of. No ‘but’ to it.
“Yes?” he asked in a strangled voice.
“Is it wrong that I’m happy? Should I be able to be happy?” Hermione asked him and George heard the strain of approaching tears before they filled her eyes.
It only took a second for George to realise what she was talking about. Her parents. “Hermione,” he whispered comfortingly pulling her into him. “You deserve to be happy. And they would want it for you. Every day you think of them and every day you remember them- I know it- every day you mourn for them and though it gets easier to hide every day you grieve even more and you miss them more every day. There is no such thing as moving on and you would never try to because they are part of you and they’re with you always. That pain, that hurt and that longing will never go but even though it’s there you can be happy and you should be happy. Even if you don’t feel that it’s right- you owe it to them,” he told her and though he was gentle there was an element of force.
“It would have been her birthday today,” Hermione sobbed into his chest. “The first one she won’t actually be here for.”
“I’m sorry, Hermione. I didn’t even realise,” he murmured into her hair. “Did you want to go to...”
“No,” Hermione said abruptly. “I will another day but just not today I wouldn’t be able to face it.”
George nodded, holding her close to him. He kissed the top of her head and pulled back slightly to see her face.
“Thank you George,” she murmured. “For being there.”
“Never thank me for being here, ever. I will always be here for you, Hermione. No matter what,” he assured her.
“I know,” Hermione said with the smallest of smiles as she snuggled closer into him. They stayed that way for a while and Hermione felt more loved and safe than she ever had before. Knowing that he cared, and that he always would, caused a feeling that could only be described as pure warmth to spread through her.
Hermione pulled away from him and stretched before she stood. “I’m going to go freshen up and then I’ll come down to breakfast. You go. I’ll meet you down there,” she told him and he nodded, getting to his feet.
He pulled her into a hug, burying his face in her curls, “Go on then,” he said softly nudging her towards the stairs and watching her leave before smiling to himself and leaving the Common room.
Hermione entered the Great Hall and frowned at the Gryffindor table. Where was George? She’d told him she’d meet him here and he wasn’t there even when he knew she was having a hard day. She couldn’t deny the sadness and disappointment that washed over her.
Then she realised that aside from the obvious fact being that George was missing, Harry was also, as was Ginny, Fred, Ron and even Neville, Dean and Seamus. She glanced across at the Ravenclaw table expecting to see them there where they sometimes sat with Luna but they weren’t there either. Nor was Luna.
“Thomas, have you seen George? Or Harry or Ginny or Fred?” she asked the younger boy.
“Yeah,” Thomas nodded putting down a piece of toast. “George came in about ten minutes ago and they all left with him.”
“Any idea why?” Hermione asked as her confusion increased.
“No, sorry,” he shrugged returning to his breakfast.
“Odd,” Hermione murmured to herself grabbing a piece of toast before leaving the Great Hall in search of her friends.
She entered the Common room and looked around to find none of them were there and after asking several people to no avail she turned to head back out and look elsewhere but ended up walking straight into a very solid chest. She looked up to see George grinning down at her.
“Hello, love,” he said.
“Where have you been?” she asked him almost angry.
“Let me show you,” he smiled and took her hand, dragging her out of the room.
Hermione frowned as George led her through the castle, his hands covering her eyes. She didn’t like not knowing where she was going and despite her immense trust in George she would prefer to be able to see what was happening herself.
George removed his hands from her eyes, “keep your eyes closed for me. I don’t want you to trip on the stairs.”
Hermione was moments away from asking what he was doing but instead let out an indignant squeal as George lifted her, throwing her over his shoulder and carrying her, what she determined to be, up stairs. Several staircases later he finally set her down, holding her small waist as she steadied herself before replacing his hands over her eyes and nudging her forward. After a few minutes they stopped again and she was instructed to open her eyes.
She glanced at the familiar portrait to one side of her and the seemingly plain wall to her other side. George had led her up to the Seventh floor and they now stood outside the Room of Requirement.
“George, what have you been up to now?” she asked with a small smile filled with curiosity.
He paced before the wall several times and slowly the door appeared. He pushed them open and allowed her to walk in.
Hermione found herself in what appeared to be some sort of Cinema. A massive screen covered one wall and a row of sofas was opposite it. Around the room Harry and Ginny were stood by what Hermione recognised as a popcorn machine, Angelina and Fred were sat together on one of the sofas and Neville, Luna, Dean and Seamus a little further down sat in some of the others leaving only two vacant.
“Hey there Granger,” Fred smiled, the first to greet her. He stood up and pulled her into a tight hug. “I know today’s a hard day for you and no one is expecting you to put up that brave front. We’re all here for you and you know how much we all love you,” he murmured to her and she nodded.
“Thanks Fred,” she said holding his hands for a moment.
“Don’t thank me,” he grinned. “You’re boyfriend over there had this idea to cheer you up.”
“George,” Hermione smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling herself up to place a soft kiss on his cheek. “This is so sweet. I can’t believe you did this for me. Well, I can believe it because I know how thoughtful and caring you are but still it just means so much to me. And I know earlier you said never to thank you but-”
Hermione was silenced by his lips on hers. “You’re welcome,” he grinned after pulling away.
“I was rambling, wasn’t I?” she asked.
“You were,” he confirmed. “And I thought it would be the politest way of telling you to shut up.” George smiled as he put an arm around her leading her over to everyone. They all greeted her, just making sure she knew they were all there for her and offering any comfort they could.
“So what is all of this?” Hermione asked.
“I believe Muggles call it a cinema?” George said and looked from Hermione to Harry, Dean and Seamus to make sure he wasn’t mistaken.
“I see that,” Hermione said. “But why? What are we watching?”
“Beauty and the Beast,” George smiled. “I remember you said how much you loved it as a child and how you still did. I knew today wasn’t going to be easy for you so I wanted to try and keep that perfect smile on that perfect face.”
“Is there even a word to describe how lucky I am to have you?” she asked as he pulled her in for another hug.
After a while everyone sat down, all the couples cuddling and snuggling into one another. Dean and Seamus exchanged awkward glances with each other before chuckling. “Well if everyone else is going to hug,” Dean grinned and put an arm around Seamus who shook his head but laughed at his best friend’s antics.
“Where’s Ron?” Hermione asked softly.
“Believe it or not, Ron is on a date,” Harry informed her.
“Really?” Hermione asked. “That’s great! Who with?”
“That’s the interesting part,” Neville said.
“You know Jane, right?” Seamus said.
“Jane Stevenson,” Ginny chimed in.
“No,” Hermione gaped.
“Yes,” Harry nodded.
“Wow,” Hermione murmured. “How am I the only one who didn’t know about this?”
“Well, I only found out when I told him we were doing this. I don’t know if he ever planned on telling us,” George said. “So then I told these guys.”
“I...” Hermione hesitated. “I don’t know what to say.”
“No one does,” George told her. “We all know what Jane’s like.”
“But on the bright side he’s trying to move on,” Ginny said and Hermione nodded but bit her lip.
“I suppose so,” she sighed.
“Don’t worry about that for now. I’ll talk to him, I promise,” George told her. “Now shush, Love, the film’s starting.”
Hermione nodded and smiled as it began. Feeling the warmth radiating from George and the steady thump from his chest, she pressed herself even closer to him never wanting to lose the feeling that just being with him gave her.
The film continued and at the end even the boys couldn’t help but smile at the somewhat cliché, cute and romantic ending.
“I hadn’t seen that in years,” Dean smiled.
“Me neither,” Hermione nodded. “Thank you, George.”
“Anything for you,” he told her seriously. “Whenever you need cheering up, to laugh or to cry I want to be the one that’s there for you.”
“And I know you will be,” Hermione said softly. “You always have been.”
“Can we watch it again?” Fred asked childishly and they all laughed.
Angelina smiled at him affectionately, “You act like a five year old...I’m going to marry a man that will act younger than our children will.”
“Children, eh? Someone’s thinking ahead,” he teased.
“Oh shut it you,” she laughed.
“When we do have kids though, we are so watching this with them. I mean did you see the talking clock and candle and pot and teacup? That’ll prepare them for the messed up world of magic!” Fred grinned.
“I really wonder what’s going on in that brain of yours sometimes,” she admitted with a smile.
“Well can we watch it again, or what?” Neville asked.
“Wow you guys are so manly,” Ginny teased.
“Thanks, we know,” Seamus grinned.
“I thought I did this for Hermione, if I knew it would make all of you guys so happy I would have organised a boys night to watch a bunch of girly, muggle, children movies,” George joked.
“That would be so cool,” Harry chuckled.
“Just press play again,” Hermione said and rolled her eyes. “I love this film.”
“Apparently everyone does,” George nodded as Hermione rested her head on his chest and it started again.
At some point, what was happening on the screen in front of her faded and all that mattered was the man beside her. She smiled against his neck and he chuckled softly, “That tickles ‘Mione,” he whispered.
“Sorry,” she murmured but the movement of her lips only proved to make him laugh harder as he squirmed slightly.
“That tickled even more,” he grinned down at her.
“Oops,” she said with a smile as she looked up at him, focusing on the eyes that she somehow never got tired of. Especially not when they were fixed upon her so lovingly and intensely. He leant down and pressed his lips against hers and she allowed her eyes to flutter closed.
“What would I do without you?” she asked though it was more to herself as she snuggled back into him.
Once the film had finished for the second time they all took their time leaving the Room of Requirement before heading down to the Great Hall. Harry and Ginny had led the way and sat opposite Ron and Jane which Hermione was more than hesitant about but eventually sat reluctantly.
“Hey,” Ron said. “Sorry I didn’t come. I hope you’re alright.”
“I’m fine thanks, Ron,” Hermione smiled.
“Yeah well he had better things to do. We went out on a date,” Jane said with a smug look towards Hermione and George. Ron’s eyes widened at this statement and he opened his mouth but sighed and shook his head opting to remain silent.
“Well I hope you guys had fun,” Hermione said choosing the high road.
“We did,” Jane said quickly. “Probably the best date either of us ever had,” she added with another pointed look towards Hermione and George.
“I’m glad you’re happy,” Hermione said with a forced smile.
“I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to you, aren’t I Ron?” Jane said turning to him. “And you know you can trust me and I’ll never hurt you. I know you’ve been hurt before but some people are just cruel and heartless like that. They don’t care about anything but themselves but I really value your happiness and I won’t break your heart like others have done in the past. I’m not thoughtless and selfish like some,” she spoke softly but there was an edge to her voice and her words were just loud enough for the group to hear.
The sudden tension and anticipation was suffocating to them all. As fists clenched and unclenched, hands gripped wands and others exchanged nervous and worried glances fearful of where this was heading, Jane just smiled knowing exactly what she’d done and remaining unabashedly unashamed.
Hermione’s breath caught as a lump formed in her throat. As calmly as she could she stood and walked out without another word or even a glance back. What hurt most about Jane’s words was the painful fact that they were true. Everything she had said, ruthless as it was, was the simple excruciating truth.
“Hermione!” George and Ron called after her at the same time as they both stood. They looked at each other for a moment.
“Sorry,” Ron said sitting back down. “You go...”
“No, it’s alright. If you want to go,” George said. “Go ahead.”
“I- um...thanks,” Ron nodded to his brother and stood once more. He glared down at Jane who was clinging onto his arm. “Get off of me,” he growled.
“Oh but Ron it’s not my fault that she can’t handle the truth,” Jane said.
“It’s your fault that you’re an evil little-” Fred began and stopped himself when George squeezed his shoulder.
“Let him handle it,” George told him quietly.
“That wasn’t the truth,” Ron said. “And even if it were it would have nothing to do with you. Now I swear to God you better stay the Hell away from me and my friends and if you do anything to hurt her again I will kill you myself. Consider that a promise,” Ron yelled at her before turning to leave in search of Hermione.
“You can’t even see how pathetic you are!” Jane called after him. “There you go running after her but she doesn’t want you. She never did. You love her and you want to go and be there for her and comfort her or whatever but she loves your brother. Don’t you understand?”
George froze. How would Ron react to that? It was completely wrong and George knew it. Ron was not pathetic because this was not a case of the romantic feelings he had or has for Hermione. It was a case of friendship and love on a sibling level. But that wasn’t easy to see so clearly when Jane was there putting things in such a harsh way and distorting the reality of the situation. The situation changed from tense and apprehensive as things began to unravel into a potential disaster.
“I understand perfectly,” Ron said. “And I love her and George enough to deal with it and I’m still willing to be there as a brother and friend to both of them so I think you’re the one that doesn’t understand and I don’t think you ever will. Because what would you know about love and caring for people? You’re a heartless, manipulative witch that feeds off chaos,” he roared.
“We’ll see how this plays out, shall we?” Jane said still smirking and not seeming affected by any of the events in the slightest.
“Continue like this and it won’t have a very happy ending.” Ron threatened. Jane said no more. She left the Great Hall, head held high and Ron clutched his wand so tight that he feared it would break.
George watched Ron in silence he could see he was visibly trembling. His body was shaking with either the effort of not exploding in a fit of anger or in an attempt to control the undoubted battle of emotions within him. George was overcome with the urge to hug his brother and he did exactly that. He crossed the table and pulled Ron into a tight embrace without saying a word.
“I’m fine, George,” Ron said seriously.
“I know. I’m just really -I don’t know- thankful to you and I’m proud of you Ron. I truly am. You’re a lot stronger than I could ever dream to be. What you just did was pretty incredible and I appreciate it. I know Hermione will too,” George told him.
“Thanks,” Ron said quietly.
“I love you. You know that, right?”
“Do you think I would have said and done what I did if I didn’t know that? I love you too,” Ron grinned at his brother who hugged him again.
“Good,” George nodded. “Now why don’t you go find Hermione and see how she is.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to go? She might rather have you there to-”
“No. You go. I think she’d really appreciate it coming from you,” George said.
“Alright,” Ron said. “I’ll see you later.”
“Bye Ron,” George smiled after him. Though part of him wanted to go check on Hermione himself, he trusted Ron to help her this time and he knew he’d talk to her later.
“You did the right thing, George,” Fred assured him.
“Thanks,” he smiled.
“Looks like our little Ronnie really is going to be okay, huh?” Fred grinned.
“Thank God,” George said with a small chuckle. “Seems like he’s quite smart after all.”
“He knows what he’s doing now. I was worried about him to be honest but you were right. He handled it himself,” Fred said.
“We need to find him a girl,” George said thoughtfully.
“My twin I just had the exact same thought,” Fred smiled and the two exchanged knowing looks of mischief.
So there you go, Chapter 21 is done and dusted. I hope you enjoyed it!
As usual I have to apologise for the ridiculous amount of time it took me to update but I do have to blame the unbelievably busy holiday season for the delay!
I hope you all had an amazing Christmas and I wish you all the best possible 2014 you can have and I hope it's filled with happiness, love, laughter, prosperity and lots of really amazing fanfiction!
Please let me know what you thought of the chapter- consider it a Christmas present for me! Thank you so much for reading and sticking with the stories and a massive thank you to all of those who always review your feedback and support means so much!
Thanks again and a late Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!
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